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Thrifty tips for young professionals in the big city

Sarah Fudin

Living in one of the great cities of the world and making enough money to enjoy it, even frugally, can be very exciting. You probably have access to better entertainment, trendier nightspots and a greater variety of food than you have ever had before. But how can you enjoy the city without going broke? Here are five simple tips that will help to reduce your spending while still letting you get the most out of the big city.

Young professional taking train

Take public transportation

Paying for gas, parking or cabs can rack up costs at an amazing speed in a large city. In contrast, public transportation provides a much cheaper alternative. Take the time to learn your city’s system and use it to save as much as you can. Aim to cut down on cab fare, rather than eliminating it completely. It is OK to take a cab when you are late for an important meeting or if you don’t feel safe on the subway at night, but there is no reason to take a cab every time you go from point A to point B.

Avoid impulse spending

Decide what to spend your money on each payday or before you leave the house in the morning. Thinking rationally about your financial priorities and planning your spending in advance can save a large portion of your income. It is useful to think about where you make unplanned (and perhaps wasteful) spending decisions. Clothing stores and bars are common places young professionals spend more than they intend to. Did you know that 80 percent of books purchased are never read?

Lunch bagBring lunch to work

Eating out is a tempting convenience and can also be a great pleasure, but do you need to eat out every day? You can probably afford to eat even better food with a little planning. At night, or in the morning before work, why not pack yourself a simple brown bag lunch? You can easily make a sandwich in a few minutes for half the price it would cost you to buy one. Or, with a little more foresight, you can cook a big pot of pasta for dinner and take it to work the following day.

Take advantage of free events

While paying to go to the movies, concerts, clubs and restaurants can be an exciting part of life in the city, many free entertainment options are also available. Public theatrical and musical events are often offered at parks and free museums. Also, regional publications, like Time Out New York, maintain daily listings of free events each day in their home cities. Opting for just one free event a week could save you a considerable sum while offering you the opportunity to explore new parts of your city.

Watch TV online

When cable first came out, it was the only way to get access to more than a few basic channels. But today, most popular television shows are readily available online in one form or another. Hulu lets you watch current TV shows legally. Netflix allows you to instantly watch the past seasons of many shows without commercials. Why pay for cable when you can watch your favorite shows online, whenever you want?

While all of these tips are excellent ways to live more frugally, you don’t need to follow them all. Pick the tips that feel right to you. As you put these thrifty tips into practice, aim to save what you can without driving yourself crazy. You work hard for your money, and you deserve to enjoy it — just remember that enjoying it doesn’t have to mean throwing it away.

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